Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q/A MIKE REYNOLDS; Professor Honored for Ongoing Efforts in Astronomy Education

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Q/A MIKE REYNOLDS; Professor Honored for Ongoing Efforts in Astronomy Education

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY MARAGHY

The Sun chatted with Mike Reynolds, dean of liberal arts and sciences at Florida Community College at Jacksonville Kent Campus. Reynolds, a Jacksonville native, was awarded the Astronomy Society's 2009 annual outreach and leadership award for his ongoing efforts to lead star-gazing adventures here and abroad to promote astronomy education.

Tell us about yourself and your interest in space.

Yes, I'm a space cadet, a science geek. In May 1961, I was a 7-year-old in first grade and my class watched on television when Alan Shepard became the first [American] man in space. I was sold. My parents had no interest in science. They didn't understand where this weird kid came from.

I developed a lifelong interest in space and physical sciences as I grew up.

I loved teaching physics and chemistry at Fletcher High School and I still hear from many of my former students. I was never a boring teacher.

With my family, on vacations, I had my children dragging rocks back from mountain hikes.

How did you win this award?

We like to call the award the Astro Oscar. I tied this year with David Levy of Arizona, who discovered the comet that hit Jupiter.

I'm a member of the Astronomical League, which was made up strictly of observing clubs in which members look through their telescopes and identify different objects on a check-off list to achieve different statuses.

But I felt we needed to do more to promote space education. I love sharing the universe with people. I believe in making the classroom alive. I get really excited about this stuff. So, in 2006, I established outreach clubs in which club members nationwide set up their telescopes regularly to let the general public look through them. We need to get our kids turned on to space today. We need to bring the beauty of the universe to our children.

Currently, I set up my telescopes (I have 20, more than the college has, to my wife's chagrin) at Hanna Park during the first moon. …

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